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Followup critical for your child's school choice invite

By DONNA WINCHESTER
Published February 4, 2007


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Now that the application period for magnet, fundamental and career academy programs for the 2007-08 school year is over, families who participated might be wondering what's next.

The most important thing parents need to remember is that there is a crucial Step 2.

Beginning Feb. 22, parents must call the same number they called to make their application - 727 501-0871 - to find out whether their child was invited to a program. If you are offered an invitation but fail to accept it by day's end Feb. 28, your application will be voided.

But there's a more immediate task for some applicants. A number of the programs, including Bay Point and John Hopkins middle schools and most of the high school magnets, have entrance criteria. Documentation of your child's eligibility must be dropped off at the school by the end of the day Monday.

Call the schools to which you applied for more details.

* * *

Looking ahead to the attendance area application period, which opens March 5, the first order of business is deciding whether you're in the group that needs to do anything. You need to apply if you're in one of these categories:

- You want your child in kindergarten this fall.

- Your child will be transferring to the district from a private school.

- Your child will be entering middle school or high school and does not qualify for extended grandfathering into his zoned school or doesn't want to attend that school.

- You're not happy with your child's school, regardless of his grade, and want to try for another school.

One important point you might want to consider: If you accept an invitation to a magnet, fundamental or career academy program during the Feb. 22-28 window, you may not want to enter the attendance area application period. Doing so will cancel your invitation.

* * *

So if you plan to apply for an attendance area school next month, what's the best way to prepare? One thing you might want to do is visit the district's Web site, www.pinellas.k12.fl.us. You can check out information on each school, including enrollment and student performance.

More detailed data is available on the Florida Department of Education Web site, www.fldoe.org. You'll be able to find out each school's grade from the state, how many children are reading at grade level, and which schools are making "adequate yearly progress" according to the federal government.

But the best way to get a feel for a school is to visit it. Site visits can be time-consuming, but nothing beats a face-to-face visit with the school principal and your child's potential teacher.

Most schools have scheduled tours and open houses to help parents make their selections. For a complete list, go to www.pinellas.k12.fl.us/Choice/tours.html. District officials suggest you call ahead to make sure dates and times remain as advertised.

Donna Winchester can be reached at (727) 893-8413 or winchester@sptimes.com.

[Last modified February 3, 2007, 21:13:25]


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